Policy 73 articulates the principles underlying the University of Waterloo policy on intellectual property rights, and includes principles on authorship, collaborative research, use of scholarly work, contribution and recognition, publication rights, copyright, patents, teaching materials, computer software materials, data management, limitations under sponsored research, informed consent, revenue sharing and dispute resolution. Given the complex nature of this area, students should refer to the official text of the policy available from the Secretariat (Needles Hall, Room 3060).

For graduate students, funding agreements including revenue sharing, employment, contractual research and academic program sponsorship with companies or agencies must be approved by the Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs or delegate.

Theses are a special case of scholarly work. A thesis embodies the results of a student's research program, and, especially at the graduate level, is a substantial and original piece of work. Students are the sole authors of their theses, but the work is carried out under the supervision of a faculty member. Because practices vary between and within disciplines, the amount of involvement of the supervisor in the research may also vary, from the apprenticeship or collaborative team research model, to the virtual independence of the student. Publications coming from the thesis or commercial development of the thesis work must acknowledge appropriately all contributors to the work. Intellectual Property rights associated with the content of a thesis belong to the student, unless modified or waived through informed consent.

When a student submits work which is eligible for copyright* to the University, as a requirement of an academic program, the University acknowledges the student's sole copyright ownership with the following conditions:

  1. The physical or electronic document (thesis, research paper, work term report, examination answer paper and such) submitted to the University by a student becomes the property of the University.
  2. With the exception of examination answer papers, the University receives a non-exclusive royalty free licence to:
    • circulate the work as part of the University Library collection in UWSpace, the University of Waterloo’s institutional repository;
    • make copies or representations of the work for academic purposes within the University;
    • make copies of a thesis deposited in the University Library at the request of other universities or bona fide institutions;
    • submit an electronic copy of the work to Library and Archives Canada for access via the Theses Canada Portal;
    • publish the abstract of any work which is a student thesis.

*Copyright is a statutory right conferred on citizens of Canada by the Canadian Copyright Act. By means of international treaties, the rights defined in the Canadian Copyright Act extend to nationals of some other countries.

For Canadians, there are no formalities required to copyright original work. The author is the immediate owner of the copyright in the original work, except in certain cases where they are under an employment contract. However, students including works by other authors in their document, must obtain prior permission from the copyright holder.